More Than My Hair | Bentley University Undergraduate Application Essay

I was five years old when I first had my hair “burned” at a beauty salon. There I was, not even knowing how to properly spell “hairdresser” and I probably knew more about the process than a thirty year old white woman. You’re probably wondering what kind of pretentious, spoiled, five year old frequents the beauty salon every weekend. Well, I’ll tell you this, I am not rich. I am Dominican. If you’re even remotely familiar with the Dominican Republic, you know our breath-taking beaches. But, beyond our palm trees, lies a history that we have been ashamed of for centuries. How does this relate to my hair? The problem comes from the fact that I have kinky, coily, curly hair.

I originally loved the fact that I had curls, it made me different from the other girls. But, every time I stepped into a Dominican home, I was confronted with an outraged, “Arreglate ese pelo!” or “Fix your hair!”. What was there to fix? What was wrong with it? Slowly, I realized why my mother had taken me to the hairdresser, before my age even reached double digits. It was to tame my hair, to prevent my natural strands from ever emerging, it was to mold me into my culture’s definition of beauty. As my confidence was fragile, it created a long lasting hatred…

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